Robert Hodgkins - Using genomic selection technology to advance the development of a ovine maternal breeding line
31 year old Sheep farmer from West Sussex.
Locks Farm is a tenanted 1,400 acre farm, most of which is situated within the South Downs National Park. 90% of our grassland in permanent pasture and is the farmed under the South Downs ESA regime where no fertiliser or chemical is permitted, therefore there is very little we can do to manipulate or extend our grazing season.
Productivity of some of the swards would be considered very low – the ESA agreement stipulates an annual maximum stocking rate of 3 ewes per acre. The farm rises up to 783ft above sea level, and field contours range from flat ground at home to steep banks upon the downs.
We are large commercial family run sheep farm running 3000 plus NZ Romney ewes. The farm is a spread out unit (25 miles round trip to visit every flock) on good to mediocre grassland, land class 3-5. We operate a single breed, closed flock and take great care and interest in selecting future progeny to make shepherding as enjoyable and stress free as possible. We are one of the largest Signet recorded flocks in the country, single sire mating and recording over 1500 ewes and there progeny per year. We sell high quality, NZ Romney rams and females, this year we have sold around 110 2 tooth rams, and all of the breeding females (800+) we had for sale.
During my (sometimes very long) drives between meetings time and time again I noticed small windmills pumping water from boreholes to tanks (I would say most tanks were around 3-5 thousand litres ) which would then go on to supply water to troughs for stock. These windmills are not new technology – some date back to the 1920’s and 30’s and although today are being replaced by solar pumps, for those of us who are less blessed with our quota of sunshine hours I think these windmills could provide a use. We operate on some fairly hilly country with mains water pressure alone being unable to carry water up that height. A simple wind driven pump like the ones I see could be used to deliver water abet at very low pressure and volumes. It will never keep up with your self-propelled sprayer but in terms of giving a boost to get water up a hill or along a valley it could prove a very attractive proposition to rival a stationary engine and pump. Its renewable, and fairly small in terms of impact – most are no more than 20 feet high with sails of around 6 ft maximum. Very low tech piston pumps . To me it just seemed to be very low tech simple to operate system – a welcome change from today were everything seems to need a circuit board in order to function properly! To get a better idea have a look at this website http://www.tycopumpingsystems.com/Windmills_and_Windmill-Pumps/iz I suppose the cost of importing even the head into the Uk would be too expensive to make much commercial sense at the moment but I will look for similar products in the UK. With a view to using them on some fairly steep fields we have.
EDIT: Found a UK company – For those interested I did find a company http://www.windpumps.co.uk/index.html basic price for a 6m tower with a 1.8m diameter sail would be around £4700 + VAT (best not to quote me on that it’s a rough price) for a 3 legged galvanized frame, which could see you pumping around 40m vertical – there may even be special environmental grants available.